The Claremont City Council this past week voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance which creates incentives for the Colleges to maintain and initiate additional campus parking restrictions for freshmen and sophomore students. The previous regulations required the Colleges to provide one parking space for every two students. These restrictions would be reduced even further for those colleges which enact freshmen and sophomore bans. Not only will this help reduce the number of cars travelling campus and city streets, but it also places less pressure on the Colleges to build more parking for a growing student population. With land at a premium in Claremont this is an important consideration. For example, the Robert J. Bernard Biological Field Station along Foothill Blvd is comprised of 75 acres owned by the Claremont University Consortium, and another 11 acres owned by Harvey Mudd College. The Station has been cited for years as a potential location for a parking lot for Harvey Mudd. Relieve the pressure on the Colleges to provide parking and you relieve the threat to this valuable open space research area.
Administrators from both Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and Harvey Mudd College expressed support for the ordinance; CMC Vice President for Business and Administration, Robin Aspinall commented that even at the rate 1 spot for every 2 students as per the previous parking regulations, meant there were still 16% more spaces than actually needed by the College. In proposing the ordinance (which will become a part of the city's municipal code with final approval), the city sought to augment its sustainability goals and encourage students to use alternatives to motor vehicles. Bob Smith, Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services said that the ordinance "recognizes Pomona College's efforts... to reduce the number of cars and their impact on the surrounding community."
For the record, to date four of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges - Pomona, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd have freshman parking bans; only Scripps does not. The Claremont Graduate Institute is unaffected by the ordinance. As of this time none of the five plan to institute sophomore bans.
Many of the comments of students I have read express valid concerns, though none that are impossible to work around. Things like work outside the local area, or other reasons for travel within and beyond the greater Los Angeles area; but then there are those which are more concerned with the lack of nearby fast food establishments for a student's greasy food fix, or how anyone could ever undertake the oh-so looooong journey between the Colleges and the Claremont Village.
The Claremont Colleges are not the only Institutes of higher learning with freshman car bans - some of the larger one include MIT, Stanford, Syracuse, the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina Ashville and Miami. In addition, other campuses have enacted "extended car bans" - some of these include sophomore bans, and proximity bans, and include four UC campuses (Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz). A complete list of these campuses can be found here.
Would more sweeping restrictions be a boon or a bust for the Colleges? They regularly receive highly favorable rankings for education and student life, and the existing freshman restrictions do not seem to have had a negative impact on admissions, so considering the broad picture, this seems unlikely. Fewer cars, and less land taken up by wasteful parking. Seems like a beneficial plan all around.